GIANTS chief Paul Anderson knows his side will be handed a major pre-season test at St Helens tonight – and he couldn’t be happier about it!
Huddersfield head to Langtree Park tonight (8.00) with a 24-man squad to face former coach Nathan Brown’s Saints.
Anderson has named a strong starting line-up, with the likes of Joe Wardle, Shaun Lunt and Dale Ferguson having to settle for starts from the bench.
Brown, who handed over Giants coaching control to Anderson last July, is also intending to select a star-studded side, including new signings Willie Manu, Jordan Turner and Alex Walmsley.
The new Huddersfield chief admits he’s taking little notice of who Brown might be playing.
But he knows whoever lines up against his own players will provide the right type of challenge.
“One thing you’re guaranteed when you go to Saints is that you’re not going to get an easy time, whatever their line-up,” said Anderson.
“And I know tonight will be no exception. To be honest, I’d like them to be as strong as possible.
“At this stage in our preparation we need to be tested as much as we can.
“It’s one thing working flat-out in training and having some opposed sessions, but it’s another stepping out onto the competitive field for a game against a fellow Super League side.
“This is obviously the best way of assessing how things are progressing and what still needs to be improved.
“You don’t get a real gauge of that if you’re facing a weakened opponent, and I know that’s something that won’t be the case tonight.
“There’s no doubt at all this will be a genuine test, and it’ll also be the chance to blow away a few cobwebs.
“I’m looking forward to it and so are the players. It’s a game that really excites us.”
Although there are no League points at stake tonight, the fixture is vitally important in terms of who does or doesn’t make the team for the Super League XVIII opener, also at Saints, on Saturday, February 2.
Anderson intends to trim his squad down to 19 for the second and final warm-up game at home to Widnes on Sunday week.
And with six senior players waiting in the wings for that fixture – Eorl Crabtree, Jacob Fairbank, Brett Ferres, Stuart Fielden, Jermaine McGillvary and Luke O’Donnell – something’s got to give.
“There’s a lot at stake for individual players tonight,” added Anderson.
“Everyone is pushing for a place in the side to face Widnes, because you need to play then if you want to be considered for our opening League game.”